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Does My Dog Need a Sleeping Bag?

Is there anything better than curling up in your sleeping bag, cozy against the chilly night air as you look up at the stars?

Yes, yes there is. It’s doing that – and not having to share your sleeping bag with a muddy dog.

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The question of ‘Does my dog need a sleeping bag for camping?’ is a question akin to ‘Do I need a sleeping pad for camping?’

No, but everyone is going to be a lot happier with one. Let me explain.

I used to think sleeping bags for dogs were super cute but also frivolous. Why would they need one? I didn’t remember my dogs having them growing up.

The first time I went camping with my new small rescue dog, he slept next to me and ended up shivering. I figured we could share my bag, since he is pretty small (17 lbs). Well that was all cute and cozy until I did my usual tossing and turning and accidentally squashing him, and he gave me lots of exasperated sighs. Then he got muddy and wet on a hike, and though I cleaned him off, I wasn’t so interested in sharing my bag that evening.

Then one day the Alcott Explorer Sleeping Bag (newer version here) was on sale and I figured what the heck. Turns out, I had no idea what I was missing.

Not only is it super cute (priorities, people) that my dog has his own itty bitty sleeping bag, it keeps my bag clean, means I don’t have to share, and it gives him a nice home base bed when we are camping.

My dog Alfie loves to hike but camping isn’t his favorite. He’s even waited patiently by the car, hoping he could go back to his warm home. I’m guessing him being part poodle *might* have something to do with this. If you have a picky dog, offering them a nice soft place that they are familiar with is a great way to get them settled in for camping.

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Can we go home now?

Another bonus to having a sleeping bag is for road trips. I can bring along his sleeping bag that he knows and likes so he has a familiar bed to combat an unfamiliar place. The top zips completely off if he just needs the bottom cushion.

If it gets dirty, just throw it in the wash. The fleecy inside is nice and soft. I’m actually a bit jealous – most synthetic bags for us humans just have that cold icky inside.

So if you can afford it, a sleeping bag for your dog is an amazing addition to your camping gear. It’s more recommended if you have a smaller dog, as larger dogs tend to regulate their heat better.

Please note that the current dog sleeping bags on the market aren’t the most backpacking-friendly. This one is 1+ lbs (depending on the size you get) and doesn’t compress very well. If you are car camping they are amazing, but if you’re backpacking and want a lighter solution, read the next paragraph for my DIY suggestion.

If you aren’t ready to make that investment, a DIY solution for a small dog is to go to Goodwill and purchase a (probably child size) down jacket. You can open up the jacket and lay the back on the ground for your dog to go inside, then zip them into it to their comfort level. You can either cut off the sleeves and stitch the holes closed or tuck them inside the body to keep them out of the way. If you want to really turn it into a sleeping bag, sew the bottom closed too. Another alternative is to simply bring along a warm blanket and fold it over your dog to provide them with a sleeping bag top.

Give your dog a little cozy place to sleep on your next camping trip. They’ll thank you for it!

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